WILKES-BARRE, PA – The 18th edition of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins training camp got underway this morning at the Toyota SportsPlex in Wilkes-Barre, with 20 players hitting the ice.
How many remain on the roster when the Penguins host the Hartford Wolf Pack in the team’s season opener on October 15th remains to be seen.
With more than 45 players still in NHL camp with the Pittsburgh Penguins, many of the skaters taking part in the first week of practice in NEPA could be bumped from the roster and figure to start the season somewhere else.
But that doesn’t mean they won’t be playing a part in the Penguins’ 2016-17 campaign.
“There’s a good pipeline from Wheeling to Wilkes-Barre to Pittsburgh,” said Wilkes-Barre/Scranton captain tom Kostopoulos, one of the few players who would seem to have already locked down a spot with the AHL club. “It’s not necessarily about where guys start. At some point of the year we’re all planning to cross paths. Different guys could help three different teams in the organization. It’s good to get to know all the guys in your organization and see where things are going to go.”
Last year was perfect proof of Kostopoulos’ point, as 10 players who skated in Wilkes-Barre also suited up in Pittsburgh. Likewise, no fewer than 14 players pulled on both Wheeling and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton sweaters last season.
“Last year a number of guys went up from here to Pittsburgh and won the Stanley Cup, a number of guys came from Wheeling to Wilkes-Barre and helped us make a little playoff run. It’s good to get to know everyone in training camp and bond a little bit.”
Head coach Clark Donatelli knows that the team he is icing at this point won’t be the team he’s putting out come opening night. Still, he keeps his eyes on the task at hand.
“We can only control the players we have here. Who comes and who doesn’t come, that remains to be seen,” he said. “We just go to work every day here with the players that we have and control what we can control, and that’s making these guys better, and making sure they’re going to be available and ready if Pittsburgh calls them.”
NOTES: Michael Webster skated in a red no-contact jersey with what Donatelli described as an upper body injury…Practice lasted approximately 90 minutes, and Donatelli said that would be the standard during the first few days of camp.